Sue Wilkinson had one quirky hit in 1980 called You Gotta Be a Hustler If You Wanna Get On and she would have celebrated her 75th birthday this week.
There are a number of rumours and some incorrect information going round about Sue including that she had acting roles in both General Hospital and Coronation Street, these are untrue. About nine years ago, I had a brief interview with Trisha O’Keefe who was Sue’s producer and friend who told me the aforementioned information and the fact she was born in 1944 not 1943 as various sites including Wikipedia claim.
She was signed to Cheapskate Records which was owned by Chas Chandler who was managing Slade at the time and there was also another rumour that Don Powell of the band played drums on the track and made the peculiar twanging noises, but as Trisha confirmed, “Don Powell did not appear on track, he wasn’t on the scene when the track was first recorded – but did make an appearance with Sue on Top of The Pops as a guest celebrity which Chas suggested and he was miming with an ordinary drum kit. I was the one banging and twanging things on the record!” The man on the keyboard is Andy Millar-Reid.
You Gotta Be A Hustler If You Wanna Get On was originally called You Gotta Be A Scrubber If You Wanna Get On but it was Doreen Davies at Radio 1 who used to run the playlist meeting who suggested it be changed if they wanted airplay.
The single was taken from her only album, a 17-tracker called Looking for Cover. Three further singles were released, Time ‘N’ Tide, Women Only and Toy Boys but all failed to capture the public’s imagination.
“Sue eventually moved to Nashville to work with several major songwriters,” Trisha explained, “and had huge success as a jingle writer out there. She was sadly diagnosed with breast cancer and returned to the UK, where she died in 2005.
Let’s remember that great little quirky hit which reached number 25 in the UK.